ONGC to sign 17 new oil & gas block contracts

Of the 70 blocks offered in NELP-VIII, only 36 attracted bids from interested companies. ONGC and its partners won 17 areas out of their bidding for a maximum of 25 blocks

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and its partners will sign contracts on Wednesday for half of the 34 oil and gas blocks awarded in the latest round of auction under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), reports PTI.

Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) for 34 out of the 36 exploration areas that were bid for in the eighth edition of NELP will be signed tomorrow, official sources said.

Of the 70 blocks offered in NELP-VIII, only 36 attracted bids from interested companies. ONGC and its partners won 17 areas out of their bidding for a maximum of 25 blocks.

Among the 24 deep water blocks that the government had put on offer, only eight received bids, all of which were single bids. ONGC and partners bagged seven, while Cairn Energy Plc of UK was the winner of the other such block, they said.

Of the 28 shallow water blocks on offer, 13 received bids. BHP Billiton Petroleum won three while ONGC got five of these as lead partner and one where Oil India Ltd (OIL) was the operator. Cairn Energy got a KG basin offshore block.

As regards 18 onland blocks, bids were received for 15, four of which went to ONGC. Other winners include Jubilant, Oil India, NTPC and Esveegee Steel.

Sources said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had in March rejected Deep Energy's offer for two onland blocks in view of "very low percentage share of profit to the government."

ONGC won seven deep-sea blocks—five as the sole operator, one as a joint operator with OIL and one with the BG Group of UK as the operator.

Its other partners in deep-water blocks included Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), GAIL India, NTPC and Andhra Pradesh Gas Infrastructure Corp. Shallow water blocks had Indian Oil Corp and Adani Welspun Exploration Ltd as additional partners.

In all, ONGC won 17 blocks—in 14 as operator and three as non-operator, they said. In the previous seven rounds too, ONGC had won almost half of the 203 blocks awarded.

Out of 70 oil and gas blocks and 10 CBM blocks offered, bids were received for only 44 areas.

Sources said PSC signing for CBM blocks would be taken up later as the CCEA approved award only this month.

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SEBI eases reporting requirement norms for FIIs

However, analysts feel the new requirements will not have much implications as the securities lending market is not very mature in India

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today relaxed the reporting requirement on lending of securities by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) for the purpose of short selling, reports PTI.

FIIs now have to disclose the information on a weekly basis instead of daily.

However, FIIs issuing participatory notes (PNs) will have to immediately report their short position.

PNs are instruments through which unregistered entities in India invest in stock markets while short-selling means selling of borrowed shares at high prices with the intention of repurchasing them in the future when the prices fall.

"It has been decided to modify the periodicity of these reports from daily submissions to weekly submissions... The FIIs shall now be required to submit the reports every Friday," SEBI said in a circular.

The circular becomes effective from 2nd July.

However, analysts feel the new requirements will not have much implications as the securities lending market is not very mature in India. Securities lending means a brokerage lending securities owned by its clients to short-sellers.

As per the data available on the National Stock Exchange (NSE), daily data on the Securities Lending and Borrowing (SLB) segment shows little action.

"It really does not make any difference as to whether the data is submitted on a daily, weekly or quarterly basis as hardly any trade is executed in SLB segment in India," SMC Capitals equity head Jagannadham Thunuguntla said.

However, in other countries, such as the US, where the securities lending is a big market, the order would have made a difference, he said.

The market regulator said that public dissemination of the disclosure by FIIs will be made twice in a week—on Tuesday and Friday.

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TRAI to review telecom service quality every quarter

The quarterly audit will certainly put pressure on service providers to keep upgrading their networks constantly and swiftly redress subscriber complaints

To improve quality of telecom services and make tariff plans easier to understand, telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will switch to a quarterly audit of \'Quality of Service\' from July this year, instead of annually now, reports PTI.

"Till now, every three months the service providers submit data on defined parameters of Quality of Service but audit was done annually by TRAI," a senior TRAI official said.

This will certainly put pressure on service providers to keep upgrading their networks constantly and swiftly redress subscriber complaints.

On information relating to tariff plans, TRAI is seeking to simplify the tariff plan literature offered by operators, as subscribers do not get the right kind of information about hidden costs and benefits of different plans.

The regulator had also convened a meeting of service providers and consumer groups last month and had sought their views on improving customer care and Quality of Services.

Officials said that lobby groups Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), representing the two telecom technology platforms GSM and CDMA, respectively, have submitted the "Citizen\'s Charter" suggesting improving transparency in information dissemination and TRAI would decide on the same at the earliest.

"We have received the charter just two days ago. We will surely see whether the charter has any tangible benefits for the subscribers and accordingly will take a decision," the official added.

Meanwhile, the regulator will be launching web-based \'Telecom Consumer Grievances Monitoring System\' by 15th July, enabling subscribers to lodge their complaints and monitor their redressal on web through internet.

TRAI has been receiving complaints of poor quality of services and weak complaint redressal mechanism, causing lot of hardships to the subscribers.

"Our growth in mobile subscriber addition may be the fastest in the world at an average of adding 15-20 million every month but unfortunately customer care and complaint redressal system is very poor," the official said, adding that this will now be the focus of the TRAI.

On the web-based grievance system, officials said it is ready and final testing is being done.

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